July 13, 2020
Joined UTHealth: 2001
What brought you to UTHealth? Where are you from?
I grew up in La Marque and went to Southwest Texas State University. I started working at UTMB in 1998, and in 2001, I moved to Houston and transferred here to the finance administrative support team.
Tell us about your work history here.
My first position was a senior support specialist in finance, the FAS Team (financial administrative support). At that time, Kevin Dillon didn’t have a dedicated admin. The FAS Team handled his administrative support, along with other duties. I eventually (late 2002 or early 2003) transitioned to a dedicated support role for Kevin as an administrative services officer. My responsibilities have grown and changed over the last 18 years, and in the last 10 years the administrative staff of the offices of the President, COO, and CFO have gradually become one team and we all have certain responsibilities that support all three offices.
Says Kevin Dillon, “The most remarkable thing about Gail is that – consistently, for at least the past 15 years or so – not a week goes by without someone (a vendor, a colleague from another TMC hospital, a UT System executive, etc.) telling me some variation of, ‘Gail is just the nicest, most efficient administrative assistant I’ve ever met.’ It’s uncanny. I mean, vendors who didn’t win the bid, TMC colleagues who are mad at me about something (it happens), a consultant I bump into in an airport a year later, it doesn’t matter. They still go out of their way to tell me about their uniformly positive and constructive interactions with Gail. At this point in our work partnership, when she decides to retire, I’m leaving that same day. I just can’t imagine doing this without her.”
What are you most proud of accomplishing here?
I’m proud of the collaborative relationships I’ve built in administration and all of our six schools over the last (almost) 20 years. I think the majority of the people I work with recognize that I’m always willing to help where I can (or direct them to the correct department/person, if I can’t) and to be flexible in order to accomplish a goal – that their goal is OUR goal since we’re all on the same team. At least that’s always how I try to engage. These relationships make my job easier, and I hope it makes others’ jobs easier, and I think they make us all better employees.
Why have you stayed?
Wow…so many reasons. First and most important is that I work with great people. I’ve been fortunate to work in an environment where I’m treated with respect and I feel valued – like I’m a contributing team member. I also have had the pleasure of working with the same team (Ana Touchstone and Connie Johnson) for almost 20 years! We all have the same attitude – that our role is a service role to the entire institution. It’s just great to work with like-minded people who you also very much like and respect. Of course, the great benefits and the flexibility that UTHealth’s generous vacation and sick time allows is another important reason. Overall, I’ve stayed because I feel like my job has continued to challenge me and my duties and responsibilities have grown and have allowed me to grow as an employee.
What makes this place special?
I think it’s that we’re in the midst of this amazing “thing” that is the Texas Medical Center. We have all of these interesting and complex collaborations with other health science centers, health institutions, and government entities. We are one cog in the big machine that makes up this place where we all work and probably take for granted because we have all of these resources so close and available. In addition, six different schools, bringing students and faculty from all over the world to study and work here, makes for such a diverse and interesting place.
How has the university changed since you first joined?
Physically, so much has changed…there was no rail, there was no IMM building next to UCT, so many buildings have come up (and gone down) in the years since I started, it looks like a different place. Less obvious changes are that the clinical practice has become so much more visible. I think people are starting to get a sense of who UTHealth is – back in 2001 when I would tell people that I had gotten a job at “UT in Houston” (we weren’t “UTHealth” then), they would immediately assume I meant MD Anderson. When I would explain that I worked at the other UT…I just got blank stares. Now with UT Physicians’ clinics literally everywhere, the great Many Faces billboards, and the visibility of the “UTHealth” name, I rarely have to explain these days.
When you are not at work, how do you spend your time?
My husband, Mark, and I love to work in our yard – we’re always planting something new or just out there trying to keep it all alive. We also like to turn old or discarded things into yard art – an Old Smokey that someone puts out for the trash gets snatched, sanded, painted, and turned into a planter! We love to travel – big trips and small weekend road trips. But most of my time is spent enjoying our backyard, cooking, talking, and hanging out with my husband and my two adult daughters, Nikki and Katie, friends, and our three dogs and two cats!